Kagame and the December 2023 IMF’s Rwanda Review – Himbara Challenged to Substantiate His Claims that the Report Paints a Negative Outlook

Text by David Himbara 

Letter from Rwanda

Murunganwa aka Himbara, please substantiate your claims that the latest IMF’s Rwanda review was gloomy. To the contrary, the IMF’s review of our country was very positive. To quote from the IMF, “Rwanda’s economic growth remained robust.” That is why the IMF is supporting us with US$268 million credit. What do you say to this?

Response to the Letter from Rwanda

The International Monetary Fund announced on December 14, 2023, that it had approved a US$268 million stand-by credit for Rwanda. The IMF’s review reveals that General Paul Kagame’s regime is sitting on a powder keg, unable to advance its development agenda. Foreign aid and donor soft loans have dwindled leading to a funding squeeze; the international reserves are shrinking; 4) and the outlook remains titled downside – the situation in Rwanda is more likely to deteriorate than improve. Let the IMF speak for itself:

“Macroeconomic imbalances have intensified. Policy space to advance developmental objectives has been constrained by diminished policy buffers…The structural decline of external concessional financing have put pressure on the level of international reserves…The balance of risks to the outlook remains tilted to the downside…a funding squeeze would weigh on the outlook.”

Put another way, 1) the regime is unable to advance its development agenda; 2) foreign aid and donor soft loans have dwindled leading to a funding squeeze; 3) the international reserves is shrinking; 4) and the outlook remains titled downside – the situation in Rwanda is more likely to deteriorate than improve.

What are the implications?

Most worrisome is the impact of high food prices on people struggling to feed their families. The World Bank ranks Rwanda among the top ten countries “hit hardest by food inflation.”

Did you know that the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda has reported a whopping 53% increase in the prices of fresh products? This means that Rwandan staples including bananas, plantains, pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava are out of reach for the 50% of Rwandans who live on less than US$2 a day.

Am I guilty of misinterpreting the December 14, 2023 IMF review of Rwanda’s current economic circumstances? Let the reader be the judge. Stay tuned.

Written by David Himbara

Educator, Author, and Consultant in Socioeconomic Development & Governance. Affiliated Scholar at New College, University of Toronto, Canada. 

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